Columbus, Ohio Zoo and Aquarium Director Emeritus Jack Hanna stopped by the Auraria Campus Wednesday and brought along some furry (and not so furry) friends.
More than a dozen wild animals took center stage in the Tivoli Turnhalle to raise awareness about animals.
“We don’t do these shows or the TV shows for the money,” Hanna said, “we do it to promote the animals.”
Hanna travels around the U.S. doing about 100 shows a year to raise awareness of different animals and their well being. Hanna got his start in the animal world when he was only 11 years old by cleaning cages for a local veterinarian.
“I wanted to be a zoo keeper but that kind of program didn’t exist back then,” Hanna said, “Live your dream! A lot of people told me I couldn’t live my dream of being a zoo keeper.”
Among the animals were a snow leopard, which is one of the rarest cats; a honey badger, one of eight in captivity in the United States; and our very own mascot, the lynx. The lynxes Hanna showed were Siberian lynxes which are extinct in the wild. They are also twice the size of a Canadian lynx, which is what most people picture a lynx to look like. The finale of the animal parade was a full-grown cheetah.
Also brought on stage were a baby alligator and adolescent python. Gasps could be heard throughout the packed house.
Ariel Chase, a CU Denver senior in Environmental Science, said, “Seeing all the animals that close was amazing. The facts Hanna gave were really interesting and eye opening.”
Hanna also touched on some of the more recent animal-related deaths that have occurred. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, injuries from an animal are a person’s fault. You need to respect the animals and realize the environment you are in is their house.”
(Photo: Jack Hanna’s wildlife program at Tivoli Turnhalle included two Siberian lynxes. The lynx is the new mascot for the University of Colorado Denver, as selected by CU Denver students.)